Last night at Erwin Middle School, United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County (UWABC) Middle School Success Team hosted a Multi-Cultural Family night and Open House that drew nearly 500 attendees.
Families in the Erwin Community had tables with information, food and souvenirs from Jamaica, Moldova, Mexico (states of Guerrero, Michoacan, Hidalgo), Ukraine, El Salvador, Pohnpei, and the Marshall Islands.
“It was so inspiring to see school staff, service providers, students and families come together to spend time together,” said Lance Edwards, Vice President of Community Investment, United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County. “Erwin Middle School is enriched by having so many different cultures represented in its student body. That was extremely evident last night, as individuals from all walks of life, and many corners of the globe, came together to learn from each other.”
Watching Students Overcome Adversity
“The purpose of event was to truly create a ‘community school’ where students and families feel welcomed, provided for, comfortable, safe, and loved for exactly who they are,” said UWABC Resource Coordinator Linnea Burgevin. “A highlight for me was witnessing a current Erwin student overcome an adversity she’s faced. She is from Mexico and has been learning English and has been bullied previously for her language, race and culture. She attended the event last night, along with her whole family. Her friends were there, tasting the amazing food that had been cooked, and I overheard them saying ‘This is amazing! Who made this?’ The student was able to proudly say, in her school, this is from MY country, MY family made this.”
In addition to having nearly a dozen families sharing about their cultures, through cuisines, maps and presentations, there were also a number of community resources available for families to explore. Land of Sky, Pisgah Legal Services (free affordable health consultations), and the YMCA of Western NC were all present. Trader Joes was also present and provided food and resources.
“Our United Way team at Erwin Middle, Linnea and Sonia, made everyone feel so welcome and were so inclusive. It was hard for me to go when the event was actually over. It felt like a family reunion." -Erwin Middle Principal Christopher Thompson
“You know, it was actually hard for me to pack up and leave at the end of the night. It was the first time since I’ve been at Erwin Middle that we’ve done something like this,” said Thompson.
Why Middle School?
Middle school can be a tough time with significant social, emotional, and physical changes taking place all at once. If we focus only on the student, we are missing out on the full picture of what they are trying to handle. This is why we need partnerships like the Middle Grades Network. We use three key strategies to accomplish our goals, and one of those is Resource Coordinators, who are placed on middle school campuses to foster and organize strong and impactful partnerships. Together, we’re creating a hub of resources that support and build on the strengths of students, their families, and their neighboring communities.
To learn more about our Middle School Success Initiative, click here.
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